Asee peer logo

Context Based Problems And Exercises For Teaching Engineering Economy

Download Paper |


2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Engineering Economy -- The Introductory Course

Tagged Division

Engineering Economy

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.331.1 - 13.331.9



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Rajkamal Kesharwani Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

visit author page

Rajkamal Kesharwani is an MS student in the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department at Virginia Tech. His interests include decision making in engineering design and design economics.

visit author page


Xiaomeng Chang Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

visit author page

Xiaomeng Chang is a doctoral student in Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech with an expected graduation in May 2008. Her research and teaching interests are primarily focused in the areas of engineering design, integration and knowledge environments.

visit author page


Janis Terpenny Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

visit author page

Janis Terpenny is an Associate Professor in Engineering Education and Mechanical Engineering, and an affiliate faculty of Industrial & Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech. She is Director of the Center for e-Design, a multi-university NSF I/UCRC center. Her research focuses on methods and representation schemes for early design process and on engineering design education. She was previously an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts and worked at General Electric (GE), including the completion of a two-year management program. She is a member of ASEE, ASME, IIE, and Alpha Pi Mu and is the Design Economics area editor for The Engineering Economist.

visit author page


william sullivan Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

visit author page

William G. Sullivan is an emeritus professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He is a two-time recipient of the Eugene L. Grant Award for the best paper in The Engineering Economist. His research interests include justification of advanced manufacturing technologies, the economic principles of engineering design, and activity-based costing applied to the design process. Dr. Sullivan serves as coeditor of the Robotics and CIM Journal (Elsevier, Ltd.) and is a fellow in the Institute of Industrial Engineers. He obtained his Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Context-Based Problems and Exercises for Teaching Engineering Economy


Traditionally, methods of teaching engineering economy draw on resources such as textbooks1-5, websites6 and papers7. Often, engineering economy courses follow the ‘given this, find that’ style of exercises to introduce and reinforce basic concepts. Developing examples and exercises that are interesting, engaging, and provide context is a challenging problem for courses with students enrolled from a variety of majors. Yet, we know that without proper context to their discipline, students will not find relevance or understand why they should care to learn engineering economy. To students it may be just another course to check off the requirements list. Further, students from disciplines other than industrial engineering (IE) often learn engineering economy as part of another required course within their discipline. For example, mechanical engineers will be introduced to engineering economy concepts in an introductory or senior course in engineering design. For this situation, non-IE students typically do not purchase a textbook in engineering economy, but rely on instructor provided materials.

When students become seniors, we expect that they will remember, integrate, synthesize and assimilate topics that have been ‘poured into their heads’ over the prior 3-4 years as they take on a capstone design project. Faculty teaching capstone design may introduce or reinforce a variety of topics, such as engineering economy, that will support the design process and other learning objectives that have not been covered earlier in the curriculum. The review of topics in preparation for the FE exam may also be a priority in the senior year.

While there are a number of excellent textbooks1-5 on engineering economy, and authors make every effort to improve these textbooks over time with added examples and exercises and new ways of conveying concepts, these updates come every few years and do not provide a dynamic mechanism to continuously improve. Sharing example problems from a variety of disciplinary perspectives is limited and infrequent. Moreover, submitting suggested problems and improvements to the textbook to authors is limited compared to the size of the community. And again, there is a time delay from when suggestions are provided and when these might be included in a new edition. If student A reads the textbook but has better insight on the subject due to experience in the field, the student may be in a position to give some real life example where he found the application of the studied principles to be useful. One cannot add this example to the textbook directly. To avoid trouble of communication with the authors, student A is likely to never communicate improvements to the author. As a result of this, someone who could have benefited more by learning about A’s experience loses out on the opportunity. This lack of dynamic mechanism to continuously improve learning resources is the same for conventional websites, and other printed media such as journal and conference papers.

This paper proposes a material collection and usage method that can be used to learn or review engineering economy. A wiki framework provides the means to post instructional materials on

Kesharwani, R., & Chang, X., & Terpenny, J., & sullivan, W. (2008, June), Context Based Problems And Exercises For Teaching Engineering Economy Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4491

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015